WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders on Wednesday won the backing of New York City transit workers, as well as his first endorsement from a Senate colleague, less than a week before New York state's primary.
Sanders announced the endorsement of Transport Workers Union Local 100, representing 42,000 workers in the New York region, as he and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton battle for support before Tuesday's vote in a state each has called home.
Deriding "fierce attacks" against unions over the last several decades, Sanders called organized labor the last line of defense against corporate greed in America.
"We've got to stand together, take on the big-money interests and make it clear that our government works for all of us, not just the 1 percent," the U.S. senator from Vermont said.
Earlier, in a New York Times column announcing his endorsement, U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said he supports Sanders for his work battling economic inequality, opposing trade deals and fighting for the middle class.
"It is time to recommit ourselves to that vision of a country that measures our nation’s success not at the boardroom table, but at kitchen tables across America," Merkley wrote. "Bernie Sanders stands for that America, and so I stand with Bernie Sanders for president."
Merkley praised Clinton, who represented New York two terms in the Senate, and said he recognized Sanders has an "uphill battle" to defeat her. Sanders was born in Brooklyn.
Clinton leads Sanders in the number of delegates needed to clinch the nomination ahead of the Nov. 8 presidential election, but Merkley said Sanders could still upset her.
"Anything's possible in a campaign," he said in an interview on MSNBC, citing Sanders' stance on a range of issues, from trade and healthcare to climate change and campaign finance.
Merkley's announcement precedes the May 17 primary in Oregon.
Clinton won the endorsement of New York's Daily News on Wednesday. The newspaper called her a "superprepared warrior realist" who also understands the economic toll the country has faced, while labeling Sanders "utterly unprepared" with "politically impossible" goals.
(Reporting by Megan Cassella and Susan Heavey; Editing by Bill Trott and Jonathan Oatis)